The Problem with Silence

On Jay Leno’s show last night, Mitt Romney unveiled his answer for what he would do to replace the Affordable Care Act if it’s repealed—nothing. The exchange is a little long, but worth reading in full.

The short story is that the conservative “alternative” to Obamacare is the pre-reform status quo, where insurance is increasingly unaffordable, and medical costs can bankrupt a family. Politically, this is the kind of thing that the Obama administration should be able to capitalize on, as it illustrates the extent to which the GOP doesn’t have a plan for dealing withe uninsured. But I’m not sure that they will. In fact, I’m not sure that they can.

Since its passage two years ago, President Obama has done a terrible job of defending the Affordable Care Act in the court of public opinion. That’s not to say that presidential rhetoric could convince strong opponents of the law, but there’s a lot to be said for clearing misconceptions and giving the public a sense of what the law is supposed to do. As it stands, a plurality of Americans oppose the law, and significant numbers believe that it’s already been repealed.

The public simply doesn’t know what it has or what it will lose if the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare, and because of his silence, the president won’t be in a position to use this as a rallying call in the election. Indeed, if Americans take anything away from a health care repeal, it’s that President Obama ignored the economy to overreach with an unpopular—and unconstitutional—law to reform health care. Few people will care—or even know—that the whole controversy is manufactured right-wing outrage.

Comments

I keep hearing how a plurality of Americans are against Obamacare. I'd be interested in finding out what percentage of those are uninsured. My guess is not too many.

Well... as a first guess you might assume that 85% of them are insured, and will potentially lose that insurance in the next year and a half if Obamacare stands. Please think about that - I know it's not a nice thought, but the fact is most of us are covered by employment based insurance and the waiver program only delayed the loss of insurance by the first 10 million to be dropped for 2 years. When the law goes into affect they will lose their insurance and millions more will be dropped. After that, who knows? That's right - the folks who designed the CLASS act know that everything will be just fine - I'm not rich enough to depend on that. There is a reason why people tend toward incremental changes - it has less chance to destroy what we already have. I understand how we can be desperately sympathetic toward people without insurance, but don't understand how forfeiting the insurance of the other 85% is so easily justified - it seems callous to me. As I listen to people out there reciting the mantra "it's individual responsibility - you shouldn't want to have to pay for someone else's emergency room visit because they don't have insurance" I realize they just don't have a clue that people don't really care so much about paying a bit more for folks down on their luck as people keep assuming. Even if progressives don't have sympathy for them, most other people do. That doesn't bother people as much as threatening to destroy their health coverage in the name of some grand experiment. That argument really only works on the caricatures that progressives wish their opposition was.

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